I was thinking about the quotation “The only constant is change,” and how much it reflects our modern world. I wondered who said it first and was shocked to learn it was a philosopher from Ancient Greece, one I was unfamiliar with. Heraclitus. He lived around 500 B.C.E. so his ideas feeling so current is indicative of the quality of his ideas. I decided to read what else he had to say, which is not a lot because only Fragments remain.

A lot of us have probably also heard that we only step in the same river twice as well. That’s another one from Heraclitus as is the idea that life is flux, life is change. What remains are short refrains, full of impatience with ignorance and human weakness. He probably was not a fun guy at parties. But he had a lot to say about how we perceive the world.

If everything
were turned to smoke,
the nose would
be the seat of judgment.

I chose this because it is not famous, but it is true. We perceive the obvious. How do we discern more? Through wisdom and judgment. His ideas are a good antidote to disinformation, such as his suggestion “Let us not make rash guesses our most lucid thoughts.”

I don’t know Greek, let alone ancient Greek, so have no capacity for judging the translation by Brooks Haxton. I like how he presents it in poetic refrains, unlike another translation I looked at. The Greek is on the facing page, so scholars can check his work.

Fragments is short and sweet. You can read all of his work in thirty minutes and then you can reflect on it for a lifetime.